In 2012 the Land Remote Sensing Program of the USGS continued its active participation with strategic international partners and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites to improve access to Earth observation data and to build multi-lateral remote sensing research collaboration for climate and land use change analysis. The USGS is actively negotiating Multi-Mission memorandums of understanding with Landsat international ground station partners for direct downlink of the Landsat 8 satellite. To honor the 40th anniversary of Landsat, the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space sponsored a special panel discussion dedicated to the Landsat mission and its role in the worldwide evolution of remote sensing.
Per request from the Japanese Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, the U.S. State Department convened in January 2012 a bilateral Earth Observation Workshop to highlight the economic benefits of open access to satellite imagery. Former USGS Director Dr. Marcia McNutt presented the Landsat program as a successful model. Dr. McNutt stressed large government productivity savings in agricultural, water use consumption and forest monitoring based on open access to satellite data.